In form Blackjack withdraws from Trans Tasman team

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Andrew Kelly in action at the recent Summerset National Singles and Pairs in Christchurch

Andrew Kelly has made the difficult but ultimately simple decision to withdraw from the Blackjacks squad for next week’s three Trans Tasman tests on the Gold Coast.

The newly crowned national men’s singles champion has pulled out just days out from the event as his partner has yet to give birth to their first child, a baby girl.

She was due on Monday (January 27) but Kelly is “still on baby watch”.

“It’s a tough but easy decision given the time it’s got to,” he said.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play at the world champs and with the Trans Tasman being the last event before the World Bowls team gets named this is the last opportunity to put my hand up and say that I do want to be part of that team and yes I’m good enough etc.

“Having to forgo that last opportunity is quite tough, but a baby is a life-changing event in itself and I think not to be there would be something I would regret in the future.”

And Kelly never considered missing the birth of his first child.

“At the end of the day bowls is a game, this is life.

“If the two clashed it was never going to be a question of what one took priority.”

Chris Le Lievre, who played alongside Kelly at last year’s Trans Tasman, has been named as his replacement and will play as lead in both the men’s triple and four.

“Look if it does end up costing me I’m at peace with that,” Kelly said.

“If I miss out on the world champs team to a better player then I’m comfortable with that.

“In life you have to make a number of decisions and there’s always an opportunity cost that comes from those decisions. I’m comfortable with the decision I’ve made in this instance.”

And he’ll be cheering on the Blackjacks from this side of the Tasman.

“Certainly no ill wishing of players.

“I really do hope that everyone performs really well and contributes to hopefully a successful Trans Tasman and we’re able to beat Australia. That’d be fantastic.”

The first Trans Tasman test will be played at Club Helensvale on Tuesday (February 4), with the second and third tests to follow at Musgrave Hill and Broadbeach the following two days.